Introducing Photographer’s Friend for iPhone and iPad (Podcast 592)

Introducing Photographer’s Friend for iPhone and iPad (Podcast 592)

It gives me great pleasure to tell you that I have now released the update to our iPhone app, Photographer’s Friend. We now support iPad in addition to iPhone and iPod touch, as well as landscape and portrait orientations.

As I mentioned in an update a few weeks ago, from the end of August I started studying how to develop for iOS, and following a week going through an online course, I set about the task of rebuilding our old MBP Podcast Companion app, as it was a little too long in the tooth to support iOS 11, which has now been released.

I picked up the Swift programming language relatively quickly with the aid of the online training, augmented by other invaluable resources such as the Hacking with Swift and Stack Overflow websites, I was able to create the app that I’d designed in my mind, and even add a number of features that I didn’t think I’d be able to do at this point.

I submitted Photographer’s Friend for review last Thursday, and it was passed as I got up on Friday morning, and I’ve been delighted to see hundreds of updates from the previous version happening across the planet. Although I put a lot of work into this, I really wanted to make it a free update for all of the users that had been kind enough to buy the original app, so I’m also very pleased that I was able to achieve this.

Anyway, I’ve put together a video to walk you through the features of Photographer’s Friend v2.0 which I’ve embedded below. If you’d prefer to read, scroll down for a summary or visit the product page for more details.

Feature Summary

[custom_font font_family=’Open Sans’ font_size=’19’ line_height=’26’ font_style=’none’ text_align=’left’ font_weight=’500′ color=” background_color=” text_decoration=’none’ text_shadow=’no’ padding=’0px’ margin=’0px’]Photographer’s Friend is the only app on the App Store as of Oct 9, 2017, that has both a Depth of Field calculator and a Neutral Density filter calculator. [/custom_font]

I’ve gone into great detail as I implemented both of these fundamental photography calculators, and I’m very proud of how they’ve turned out. The settings of the Depth of Field calculator can all be adjusted with your thumb while holding the app in one hand because sometimes you only have one hand free.

Depth of Field Calculator

To calculate your depth of field, you just set your Camera Type, which is your film or sensor size, and choose an aperture and focal length, and set the approximate distance to your main subject. So basically everything is set with the four dials across the bottom of the interface. The two blue labels indicate that there is some functionality there. You can toggle between feet and meters by tapping the [Focus ft/m] label.

If you tap on the other blue label which displays the Hyperfocal Distance calculated from your selected settings, that Hyperfocal Distance is transferred to the Focus Distance dial, and the display is updated to show your near focus limit, the actual focus distance, and at Hyperfocal Distance, of course, the far limit is infinity, as you can see in the left of the three screenshots (below). All of these settings are saved, so even if you don’t use the default 35mm Camera Type, your selection will be restored whenever you open the app.

Photographer's Friend DoF Calc and ND Calc

Photographer’s Friend DoF Calc and ND Calc

I even built in a NightView mode for the Depth of Field calculator, so if you are using the DoF Calc at night, and don’t want to lose your night vision, just shake your device to toggle in and out of NightView, which you can see in the center image (above).

Neutral Density Calculator

The Neutral Density calculator, which you can see to the right of the three screenshots (above) takes your base shutter speed and calculates the new shutter speed that you have to set after attaching Neutral Density filters to your lens to slow down your shutter speed. Simple to use, you just dial in your base shutter speed on the left and tap any of the filters on the right, and your newly calculated shutter speed is displayed at the top of the screen. 

If your calculated shutter speed in 5 seconds or longer, the Timer becomes active, and we’ll sound an alarm when it finishes to let you know. The first time you start a Timer running, you will be asked for permission to send you notifications via the Notification Center, and if you grant that, if the app is closed or in the background when the timer ends, you’ll see an alert on your device instead. This works even if you force close the app or restart your device.

Links and Help

There is also a scrolling list of links to articles on Depth of Field and Neutral Density filters, as well as a link to open our podcast in the iOS Podcasts app, which now displays images again as we progress through various topics. There are contact us links and I also added some help screens to walk you through how to use the two calculators, in case some of this theory is new to you. 

Anyway, that’s a quick summary for you. I do hope you’ll check out the video that I put together or have a look at the product page for more details. For the introductory price of just $2.99 for two epic photography calculators, I think Photographer’s Friend is a steal, so I hope you’ll pick up a copy, from the App Store

Download Photographer's Friend from Appstore

Note that if you’ve updated to the latest version of iTunes on your computer, you will not be able to buy iOS apps unless you click through from an iOS device.

Please Rate and Leave a Review

If you find Photographer’s Friend useful, please do consider giving us a rating and leaving a review on the App Store. I’ve reset the reviews for version 2.0 and we need some high ratings and positive reviews to start ranking highly in searches. 

Show Notes

Photographer’s Friend Product Page:

Photographer’s Friend on the App Store (please click on an iOS device):

Music by Martin Bailey


Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.

How I Use and Why I Love Apple Photos (Podcast 574)

How I Use and Why I Love Apple Photos (Podcast 574)

I’ve been using Apple Photos for a couple of years now and although I don’t use it to edit images, I’ve fallen in love with all of the ways in which it brings my photos and video clips together and the freedom that brings. Today I’m going to share how I use Apple Photos and how I feel it’s made the way I live with my photos more intimate.

In 2014, Apple replaced the Camera Roll with the Photos app in the iOS 8 update, and then added the Photos application on the Mac OS in April 2015. Photos was also added to the Apple tvOS in 2016, meaning that I can literally access my photos on every visual device that I own. The idea of being able to seamlessly sync all of my photos and memories between all of my devices was too much to resist, so when Apple released Photos for the Mac OS in April 2015, I decided to take a closer look at it.

Until that point, I had always exported a full sized JPEG of all of my final selects from each shoot or tour that I did and kept them in my Dropbox. That gave me access to everything, and I also used those photos for slideshows and screensavers. It worked, but it wasn’t as smooth as the promise that Photos and iCloud came with.

Losing Control

At first, there was one thing that I didn’t like, and that was how Apple stored my photos. Regardless of when the images were shot, they all got shoved into a single folder for the day that I imported the images into the Photos application. Being a bit of a control freak, I would have loved it if my images were sorted into year, month and day folders for the actual day that they were shot, but Apple Photos doesn’t do that.

I can opt to reference photos where I have them on the hard drive, but then I imagine all of the iPhone photos and videos that I shoot will end up in different locations to where I store my images, and because the Photos app was already doing a good job of keeping tabs on all of that, I decided to give up this control, and let Photos look after everything.

After working this way for two years now, I can safely say that it hasn’t bothered me not being able to get straight to the image in a folder structure. This is partly because of how I organize my images and also thanks to the visual listing of images in the Photos app making it easy to browse and find things. If I need a JPEG of an image or a movie file, I just drag it from Photos to my desktop, and I get a copy. If I want a JPEG while I’m in Capture One Pro, I simply export a new one, so I really haven’t missed the folder access.

Importing my Finals in Photos

After each shoot that I do, I export a full sized JPEG to a temporary folder on my desktop. It’s easy to just scroll through each year in the Photos area of the Photos app, but because that contains all of my iPhone images and videos as well, that’s not always what I want.

To ensure that I can get to each year of my Final selects, I generally start by creating or navigating to my year folder for the current year and just drag my images to that album. Doing this imports the images not only to that album but to the overall Photos timeline view.

Photos Albums

Photos Albums

If you look at the second row down in this screenshot (above) you will also see a number of folders for my Japan winter tours, Iceland and Greenland tours. These are the tours that I have done since switching to Capture One Pro, and have basically replaced the Collections that I used to create in Lightroom to make it easy to share these images with people on my iPad as we travel, and also with my wife back home, as I’ll explain later.

I do of course keep these groupings as Collections in Capture One Pro as well, but I can’t share them from there, as I could with Lightroom Mobile. I also just like to keep these JPEGs handy for quick access, and because these will be synched across all of my devices in the same organization albums etc. Generally, when I’m on tour I create the tour album first, because I often remove photos or update the group as I tweak my selection, and once that’s finalized, I select the contents of my tour album and hit the plus button in the top toolbar, and just add the images to my album for that year.

Generally, when I’m on tour I create the tour album first, because I often remove photos or update the group as I tweak my selection, and once that’s finalized, I select the contents of my tour album and hit the plus button in the top toolbar, and just add the images to my album for that year.

It’s important to not drag the JPEGs from my desktop to multiple albums, because that imports the same images multiple times, giving me duplicates in my Photos timeline. I did that a few times when I started using Photos and it’s a pain to clean up.

Everything in One Place

As I’ve mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of using Apple Photos for me is that it stores all of my images and videos that I shoot on my iPhone right there, alongside my regular work, and I can enjoy the benefits of that in a number of ways that we’ll touch on today. To enable this, you do have to turn on iCloud Photo Library in the iCloud settings under Preferences for the Photos application (below).

Apple Photos iCloud Settings

Apple Photos iCloud Settings

Notice too that there’s an option to Download Originals to this Mac or to Optimize Mac Storage. I took this screenshot on my iMac, with lots of storage, so I have the originals of my photos and videos all stored locally on this machine. On my MacBook Pro where storage is at more of a premium, I select Optimize Mac Storage, to save disk space.

View Images on a Map

There were a few things that I missed from Lightroom when I switched to Capture One Pro, and one of them was the Map View. I’ve been geotagging my images for a number of years now, and find it useful to view my images on a map. Of course, everything that I shoot with my iPhone is automatically geotagged, so now all of my images and videos appear on the map, whether I shoot them with my iPhone or my DSLR camera.

Although Capture One Pro has the ability to show a geotagged image on the map, it simply opens Google Maps with a pin where the image was shot, and you can only view one image on the map at a time. I like to be able to open the map and see all images in my library on the same map, and that works very well in Lightroom, and is actually even better integrated into the Apple Photos apps, both on the Mac OS and iOS, once I have all of my final selects in my library.

Photos Information View

Photos Information View

In Photos on the Mac OS, if you hit the information icon in the top right, you get a nice little information window with EXIF data and a map showing where the image was made (above).

We can also just scroll down on any image to reveal a map, and there’s a Show Nearby Photos link, which will jump to a map and show you all geotagged images in your library that were shot in that area. You can, of course, zoom out on the map to show a wider area with all the images shot in that area. You can also just jump straight to a map view and browse images by location in the same way by clicking on the Places icon in the toolbar on the left or navigating to the Places album in the album view.

Apple Photos Places

Apple Photos Places

Portfolios Still via Lightroom Mobile

Another thing that I miss, but am still using Lightroom for, is Lightroom Mobile. I’m using it still to keep a copy of my portfolios on my devices. I could create my portfolios in the Photos app because all of my portfolio images are in there, but they are spread out throughout my Photos timeline, and it’s time-consuming to locate them and bring them into a portfolio album.

When I worked in Lightroom, it was a no-brainer, because I just added my images to a Collection for each portfolio, and then turned on syncing via Lightroom Mobile. I have continued to miss this, although I now have all of my portfolios in Collections in Capture One Pro, and I’m only updating them in Capture One Pro now. When I make changes to a portfolio now though, I export the images as JPEGs, and import them into Lightroom, and add them to my portfolio Collection in Lightroom, which is syncing with Lightroom Mobile.

I could create my portfolios in the Photos app, say for example by using keywords and Smart Albums, but that would require either reimporting freshly keyworded images, then removing duplicates. I could also go through my timeline and locate each image to add it to a portfolio album. Either way, it would be time-consuming, so for now, Lightroom Mobile makes more sense for my portfolios. Plus, I do really like the way Lightroom Mobile displays photos and gives us really smooth access to EXIF data.

Viewing EXIF Data in Photos App

I always encourage people to find their optimal exposure by themselves in the field, but I do often reference and talk about my settings in an educational situation, so being able to quickly check and discuss shooting settings is an important part of my work.

To enable me to view the EXIF data of my photos in Apple Photos, I’ve started to use an App called ViewExif. Unfortunately, if the full sized image isn’t cached on the device, ViewExif has to download it before it can show the EXIF data, so it isn’t very practical when I’m in other countries and don’t have Wifi, but it works for me most of the time. As you can see in this screenshot (below, left), once installed, you can add a ViewExif option to your share menu on the iPhone or iPad, and this opens a window (below, right) with lots of information about the image, as you scroll down.

As you can see in this screenshot (below, left), once installed, you can add a ViewExif option to your share menu on the iPhone or iPad, and this opens a window (below, right) with lots of information about the image, as you scroll down.

ViewExif Screenshots

ViewExif Screenshots

Another cool thing about ViewExif is that if you want to share an image without EXIF data, specifically location information, you can hit the Share button again, and get an option to share the image with or without metadata. That then sends you back to the iOS Share options, so it all works very smoothly.

Sharing Albums

As I mentioned earlier, when I’m traveling, I generally create an album for that specific tour and drop images into it as I make my initial selections. I often deleted these images after the tour when I come to a fully processed final selection, but having a living collection as I travel helps me in a couple of ways.

The first one is that if we have reasonable Wifi, I can sync my JPEGs via the Photos app, to my iPad and iPhone. This gives me a way to quickly share the work that I’m doing with people in my group when we are talking about what we’ve already shot. I try to avoid overly influencing them because I don’t like planting visual seeds, that might paralyze their own creativity, but sometimes, sharing photos of the location that you are still in can be a good way to inspire the participants.

The other thing that I like to do, is to share these photos with my wife so that she can follow along with my progress as I travel. To share images in Apple Photos, select the album or individual images and press the share button in the toolbar, and then select iCloud Photo Sharing.

It’s important to note though, that this does not share the album itself, so if you add more images to your album, they won’t automatically sync into your shared album. You basically create a new shared album, that appears in the left toolbar, and to add more images, you either need to select them, and then select iCloud Photo Sharing again, then select the same shared album, or drag your new images to the Shared album in the sidebar. I do wish this was smoother, but it works OK once you get used to it.

Favorites and Screensavers

I do like how the Favorites album works in Photos. A little while after a tour or shoot, I’ll go into my photo stream or the tour album that I created, and select a number of images that still stand out to me, and mark them as favorites. To mark images as Favorites on a Mac, you can either click the heart icon in the toolbar, or a quicker way is to hit the period key on the keyboard. On my 2016 MacBook Pro, a heart or Favorites button appears on the Touch Bar when I’m viewing images, and I sometimes use this as well, especially as I can then use both hands; one for navigation and the other to hit the Favorites button as I see something I like.

Once you have a few images marked as favorites, you can then use these in a number of places throughout your system. My favorite is to go in and set up the screensaver to cycle randomly through my Favorites folder, and this album is automatically updated as I add and remove images, so it’s a great way to keep the selection of images that are displayed as a screensaver updated.

Favorites in Screensaver

Favorites in Screensaver

Another thing that I like about this process is that I can sit with my iPad or iPhone and mark images as Favorites just by tapping the heart icon in the toolbar, and they are added to Favorites across all of my devices. This means I can add or remove images really easily on my own terms. I find that how I feel about my images changes sometimes based on how I’m viewing them, so being able to work on selections from various devices can once again make the process and resulting selections more intimate.

“Memories” Are Awesome!

The time that I get most fired up about Apple Photos, is when I am browsing through images on my iPhone or iPad, or on the Apple TV, and I play one of the automatically created Memory slideshows. I shoot a lot of short videos with my iPhone, and the quality is so good, that as I play a Memory slideshow when it occasionally switches to a video of a place I visited, it adds a beautiful extra dimension that really brings the presentation to life.

For example, I can be watching a Memory slideshow from Iceland, and all of a sudden there’ll be a video of the waves crashing against the beach with the ice on it, or I can be watching a slideshow of photos from one of my Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido tours, and the whooper swans at Sunayu will be paddling around together, and flapping their wings in slow motion.

You can save Memories and delete them if you want, but generally, I just keep them and go back through them over time. Although seemingly random, they are a beautiful way to recall what you were up to at any given point. My only wish is that they had a better dynamically updating titles. I have a Best of Last Month Memory album from October 2016, which I love.

It has some footage of a friend that I went shooting with here in Tokyo, and images and video from a trip to my wife’s home in the countryside. It truly is a series of wonderful memories. But it was only Last month in November of 2016. You can create Memories manually from Albums though, so there is a way around this, by copying everything to an album, and we’ll look at how to create Memories manually from an Album shortly.

Best of Last Month Memory

Best of Last Month Memory

As you can see in this screenshot (above) when you click the Play button to watch a Memory, you can select the theme, and change the music that will play along with you images and videos. Most of these are quite tasteful, and really do make for great ways to watch and recall your memories.

Creating Memories Manually

Although they are often amazing as spontaneous presentations, sometimes the Memory slideshows don’t contain images or videos that I’d like to see, so I occasionally just create an album and drop in some images and video clips, and just play that as a slideshow.

Once you have an album with your images and video, there is also an option in the top right to “Show as Memory”. Once you are in the Memory view, if you scroll down to the bottom, there is an option to “Add to Memories” as well, and then it just becomes another Memory like the automatically created ones.

Manually Created Memory

Manually Created Memory

I’ve found that it sometimes takes a while for videos to be included in these manually created Memories, but if you click on the Show All link below the title image, all photos and videos will be displayed, both on the screen, and in the Memory when you hit the play button.

Slideshows and Other Projects

Instead of just hitting the Play button in an album, if you want more control over the slideshow you can also create a Slideshow project. Just select your images or when you are inside an album click the + button in the top toolbar, and select Slideshow. I personally prefer FotoMagico for slideshows, so I haven’t used this myself, but it’s there as an option and looks pretty easy to use.

Similarly, you can use your images to create Calendars, Books, Cards and Prints from third party printing services. What’s available may depend on where you are based, and you can change the country for your Print Products Store in the Preferences. I love to print myself, so the Prints option doesn’t interest me, but for casual printing of calendars or cards, I may well give this a try at some point.

Sharing Photos via AirDrop

OK, so we’ve covered most of the points that I find fun and useful in Apple’s Photos application, but there are just a few other observations that I’d like to touch on before we finish.

I’ve noticed more and more on my tours, that as people photograph and video other group members, it’s become really easy to just share those images via AirDrop. On my Hokkaido Winter Landscape Adventure this year, pretty much as soon as we got onto the bus after a shoot, or at evening meals, someone would shout out to another member of the group, AirDrop! And then they’d transfer that person’s photo directly to the other person’s iPhone.

This results in us coming away from trips with photos and videos of ourselves that we would probably never receive after that person has gotten home. We shoot photos of others with all good intentions, but following up and actually sending those photos later by email is a bit of a pain. Apple has basically removed that barrier, so people are able to share photos much more easily and spontaneously, and this again leads to a much more intimate photo stream.

My Life of Photos

My Life of Photos

Not Taking My Work So Seriously!

The last thing I’d like to touch on, and one of the most important in my opinion, is that I have found from using Apple Photos and Memories that it has taught me to not take my images so seriously.

When I am out on a shoot, trying to make beautiful photos of nature and wildlife, I work hard at my art, and although it’s generally an enjoyable experience, I do tend to take my work quite seriously.

When I see the work alongside iPhone photos and video clips, shot more as a record of my journey, or even just a record of my life, it makes the entire experience more relaxed and less serious, and I really like that.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to be watching a slideshow of what I consider some of my best work, and then someone that I met while traveling shows up on the screen, or a funny sign that I noticed in Reykjavik reminds me of that wonderfully dry Icelandic humor.

I also just really like being able to look back at pretty much every image I’ve shot digitally since 2001, and a whole bunch of scanned images and old family photos, that I’ve imported into the Photos application.

I recall sitting on the last night of my third Japan Winter Tour this year, with our amazing bus driver, and he went through just about every one of these images, and basically watched my life for the last 17 years, and was also able to see me grow as a photographer as well.

There were also many photos that are just my iPhone records of my life though, and so I wouldn’t usually share these with others, but that is part of the intimacy that Apple Photos brings, and I am totally enjoying it.

If you’re an Apple user, and you’ve written off Photos for any reason, I hope this has given you a bit of an insight into how easily it makes managing your images and keeping a record of your life right there on all of your devices. I wouldn’t dream of replacing Capture One Pro or Lightroom with Photos as my raw processing software, but for the uses I’ve covered today, I really am enjoying working with Photos.

Morocco 2017

Before we close, I’d like to quickly mention that I’ve set up a new tour to Morocco from October 29 to November 10, 2017. We’ll be photographing the wonderful architecture, landscapes and culture of this beautiful country, as well as using camel handlers as models to photograph them leading their camels through the sand dunes etc. We don’t have much time to lock in on this, so if you might like to join me please check out the details at

Morocco Tour 2017

Morocco Tour 2017


Show Notes

ViewExif App:

Music by Martin Bailey


Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.

Bitter-Sweet Feelings for an Old iPhone Photo

Bitter-Sweet Feelings for an Old iPhone Photo

When I go out shooting, I usually put my memory card into my Lexar FireWire 800 card reader as soon as I walk in the door, and start my download. If I’m coming home from an extended trip, the images will be on hard drives etc. but still, the first thing I do before I do anything else (after hugging my wife of course) is to start to transfer my images to my main computer. Not only do I want that third backup, I can’t wait to see them on the big screen, and see if the images that I expect to be winners are as good as I’m thinking they are.

I was sitting on a train station yesterday afternoon though, listening to a Podcast, and wondering what to do with my fingers while I waited. I decided to look at some photos, and instead of going into my stash of Best Shots, that I sync to the iPhone to show people, I went to the Camera Roll folder. I could see the little number in parenthesis saying 24, and wondered what might be in there.

As I looked I saw pictures of ink cartridges and signs with flower names on them, shot in parks as a reminder of what I’d shot, but as I went down, I noticed the image below, shot on the last day of last year, after a shoot on a frozen beach of the Inawashiro Lake in Fukushima Prefecture, where I’d captured some of my favorite images of 2008. (You can hear about the shoot in two Podcasts that I released as Episode 172 and 173.)

I was excited to find this shot, as it brought back fond memories of a tough, yet incredibly fun shoot. I was also a little disappointing that I’d forgotten that I even took this photo at the time. I could have used it in my Podcast to impress on you how tough the conditions are. Also, it was a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to buy professional camera gear, that can withstand such conditions without too much mollycoddling.

I recalled that I threw everything into the trunk of the car, and left it pretty much like that, until an hour or so later, when I came back out of the hotel. I’d not wanted to take it inside as condensation would have formed, possibly damaging the camera. When I came back out and opened the trunk though, everything was still frozen, proving to me again how cold it really was. All of this came flooding back to me as I looked at the image six months later, on a hot afternoon on a crowded Tokyo train station.

As I thought about this though, I was a little annoyed with myself to find that an iPhone image had brought back so many fond memories. I don’t take the iPhone seriously as a camera. There’s proof of this in the fact that when I’m feverishly transferring my ‘serious’ images from my memory card or hard disk to my main PC, it hadn’t even occurred to me that there were images on my phone that I also needed to transfer and backup. I was kind of annoyed with myself for even having an emotional response to an iPhone picture!

Of course I should have known better. I know that it’s the contents of the image that count. Sure, I wouldn’t swap my 21MP images that I can create beautiful large fine art prints from for the world. But as a memory, it was a bitter-sweet reminder that a photo is a photo.

Martin's Gear in the Trunk of the Car

Martin’s Gear in the Trunk of the Car

Top Five iPhone Apps for the Photographer (Podcast 177)

Top Five iPhone Apps for the Photographer (Podcast 177)

There were a few applications that I had loaded on my SmartPhone that really made it a useful tool for the photographer, and they were basically to help me calculate depth-of-field, and the time and location of sun and moon rise and sets. Before I could move to an iPhone with the abilities, I had to find good replacements for these apps. I noticed an app called VelaClock (now Magic Hour), that had been available for the Mac for a long time, and mailed them asking if they intended to add the ability to tell not just the time of the sun and moon rise and sets, but also the location or the azimuth. They told me that this would be available in a future update, and they did indeed add this functionality a few months ago.

There are also <a href=”#download”>download and subscription</a> options at the end of the post.

There was also an application called DoF Calc, which would help with, as you might imagine, calculating the depth-of-field, and hyper-focal distance. At first, this was made available as a Web page formatted for the iPhone, but required a network connection or phone line to update itself. Most of my photography when I really need this is where there is no network and rarely even a phone signal, so it wasn’t a viable solution for a while. Pretty soon though, they released a standalone version, so I was set. I could go to the iPhone and have the applications that I really wanted, and more. Let’s go through the whole five now, and take a look at each in a little more detail.



So, three of my selected applications are of direct use to the photographer. The last two not so much so, but they are great to have. The first I will talk about is ND Calc. This is actually created by a fellow Podcaster, Boris Nienke. If you never use a Neutral Density filter, this may not be necessary for you, but if you do, this can really help with exposure time calculation, especially for the really dark ND filters that cut out many stops of light.

NDCalc has a very simple interface. Basically with two dials in the bottom half of the screen. One of them is to select your shutter speed, and the other to select the density of your neutral density filter. So imagine you have set up your camera and you have selected an aperture of F11 or F16, and you intend to stick a dark ND filter on to your lens to get a really long exposure time, you meter the shot without the filter, and find your shutter speed, which might be say 1/25th of a second. You use the dial on the bottom left to select 1/25th of a second. Then you need to select the density of your filter. If you are using an ND8, which has a density of 0.9, then you would select this from the main dial on the right, and you would then see that your new shutter speed should be a third of a second. To be honest though, an ND8 cuts out just three stops of light, and I’m sure everyone knows how to calculate a three stop slower shutter speed from 1/25th of a second. The easiest way to do this in your head is to half it three times. First from 1/25th to one 1/12, then again to 1/6th, and then again to 1/3, and your done.

NDCalc really helps though when you get out the big guns in terms of neutral density filters. If for example you are using an ND100, which cuts out almost seven stops of light, you would select ND 2.0 with the 100x in parenthesis to the right, and you’ll see that you get a new shutter speed of four seconds. An ND 1000 with a density of 3.0 would make your shutter speed 40 seconds. All of these examples are available on the dial, and I actually asked Boris to add a filter that I have but that was not included, which he kindly did, and that was a 1.5 density filter which is basically an ND 32. Most of the arithmetic can be done in your head, I imagine, but one other very nice touch to the NDCalc application is that once your shutter speed goes over 4 seconds, a countdown button appears at the top of the screen, below the new exposure time, and when you touch the button with your finger, the countdown starts. This means if you are using a cable release without a built in timer, then you can use the iPhone to actually time your long exposure, as well as calculate it. Very simple, but very useful if you do use ND filters in your photography, so I suggest you take a look at this in iTunes. Just search for NDCalc, with no space.

DoF Calculator

DoF Calculator

Next, let’s take a look at DoF Calculator from neyMedia. This is another great application for calculating your photography settings. As you probably know, I like to use very wide apertures in much of my work, for that nice dreamy bokeh, or out of focus part of the scene. The problem with this is that you can actually sometimes go a little too wide, and so it’s nice sometimes to get an idea of just how wide you can go without being so wide that it becomes impractical. You do of course become accustomed to just how wide you can shoot at with your lenses as you use them, but there is another important feature of DoF Calc that I use a fair amount, and that is to calculate the hyper-focal distance to shoot for any given focal length and aperture. If you are not familiar with shooting at hyper-focal distance, you might want to listen to episode 65 of this Podcast, in which I cover it in detail. Basically though, sometimes, especially for landscape work, if you want pan-focus, where pretty much everything in your image is in focus, but you then focus on the trees in the distance for example, you will be forfeiting some foreground detail. Rather than just focusing on something in the distance, you can find the hyper-focal distance for your focal length and aperture, then pre-focus to that distance and shoot away. Here’s an example. Imagine you are shooting a scene that you want in pan-focus and you are using a 35mm focal length. You could use DoFCalc to find out that at 35mm, with an aperture of F8, the hyper-focal distance is 5.35 meters. If you focus your lens at just over 5 meters, everything from 2.7 meters to infinity will be in focus. If the closest subject you want in focus is even closer than 2.7 meters, you can check to see how much you need to stop down to achieve pan-focus including your intended subject. At F16 for example, the hyper-focal distance comes in to just 2.7 meters, and your closest focus is now 1.34 meters.

The relationship is directly related to the focal length of course, with wide angle lenses giving much shorter hyper-focal distances, even at relatively wide apertures, and longer telephoto lenses having hyper-focal distances of many hundreds of meters. At 200mm even at F16 the hyper-focal distance is 87 meters. With a 300mm lens at F16, the hyper-focal distance is almost 200 meters out. All of this though you can calculate right there in the field with DoF Calc, and make the most of hyper-focal distance with your chose lens, so you don’t have to worry too much about whether or not everything is going to be in focus. It does also enable you to just play around and see the relationship for yourself, but if you don’t need to do this in the field, you can use an application like Barnack or the web version of DoF Calc in the comfort of your own home. The beauty of the iPhone app is that you can take it in the field with you and get it right when it really matters. I’ll put a link to a page with details of these apps into the show-notes, but again, you can search for DoF Calc in the iTunes App Store. This time there is a space between DoF and Calc.

Magic Hour

Magic Hour

So, let’s move on now to the real biggy for me when it comes to iPhone Apps for the photographer. This, as I’ve said before is a must for any outdoor photographer. VelaClock (now Magic Hour), from the Vela Design Group, tells you exactly where the sun and the moon is going to rise and set at any given location on the planet, at any day, past, present or future. It also tells you the phases of the moon, and when each of the three twilights, civil, nautical and astronomical twilight, begin for both dawn and dusk. With a recent update, you can now simply use the GPS in the iPhone to find out exactly where you are on the planet, and give you data for that location. You can always see that as your Current Location and you can use the current location to record your home location. You can also add latitude and longitude coordinates to specify an exact location, and record that, meaning you can basically get data for anywhere on the planet. There is of course a large list of place names, and in my experience you can usually find somewhere close enough to where you’re going to make this accurate enough for my use. Then when you get to the actually location of course, you just use the Current Location to get exact data.

If you have a compass with you, you can use the azimuth to find out exactly where on the horizon the sun or the moon will be rising and get yourself in position for the perfect sun or moon rise. If you are planning a trip, you can also now specify any date past, present or future, right there on the user interface, which I also find very useful. There are online resources for doing this sort of research of course, but I find that more often than not, I really want this information right there with me when I’m in the field, so having it right there in my pocket just makes this whole thing perfect for me. I’ll put a link to the VelaClock (now Magic Hour) web page into the show notes, and you’ll notice, at least as of March 2009, that there is a testimonial by me on this page. Note that I am not affiliated with the Vela Design Group in any way. I’m just supporting a product that I like and believe in.

Audio Notes

Audio Notes

I did just want to quickly talk about two more applications that you can get from the iTunes App Store that I find to be very useful for the photographer, though not directly related to photography. The first one is created by someone called Petr Jankuj, and is called Audio Notes [Removed invalid link]. This is basically just a simple audio recorder. It’s what I use on my iPhone to record audio like that that we listened to a few episodes ago, from the snowy beach at the Inawashiro Lake. You can set it up so that it starts to record as soon as you start it, and then when you are done, you just press save to save the audio you just recorded to the iPhone’s memory. To get the file off of the phone you have to set up an FTP server, which is a bit of a pain, but the companion Web site walks you through this. It’s not that difficult to do. Anyway, if you are out and about and want to record a quick audio memo to yourself, so that you don’t forget to return to a certain place, or maybe you want to record the name of a location or subject that you just shot, so that you can properly keyword your images, then this sort of application can be very useful. Again, it’s called Audio Notes, and can be found in the iTunes App Store. 

Finally, there’s one more app that I am really enjoying having on my iPhone, and that is Felaur PDF. This is basically a PDF Reader, but unlike anything else I tried, it can read really big PDF files very smoothly. Even one’s with lots of graphical content. Why is this important for the photographer? Because you can stick your camera’s manuals in your iPhone. I have the 1Ds Mark III and the 5D Mark II user manuals on my iPhone in PDF form, and you can view them with no problems at all. You can even add bookmarks to certain pages that you reference regularly, and these are saved in the phone. To upload your PDFs to the iPhone you can either put them on a Web site and download from a URL or you can do a Google search right there in the application and grab them from the Web. Because I already have a copy of the PDFs on my PC though, my favourite way is to download them directly to the phone from my PC. To do this, you just enter an IP address to your browser, with the phone on the same network using a Wifi connection, and the browser becomes a file manager, with which you can upload and download PDF files to and from the library on your iPhone.

Felaur PDF

Felaur PDF

You can also rename and sort the PDFs into various directories, so I have one for Manuals, and another for Magazines. I loaded a bunch of Professional Photographer Magazine PDFs to the phone too, in case I ever find myself with some time to kill but nothing to read. I have found one issue with this application though, which you should be aware of if you are considering buying it, and that is that the PDFs that you copy to the iPhone can disappear. I had my manuals and magazines on there for a few weeks, when all of a sudden, they disappeared. I don’t know what caused it, but it was pretty annoying to have to put them all back on there. It even destroyed my customized library, which I wasn’t too happy about. Hopefully this won’t be something that happens often, but even with that said, as long as you check that your PDFs are still there before a trip when you might need them, this can still be useful I think. (Note: The disappearing PDF trick hasn’t happened again in the 6 months since recording this Podcast.)

So that’s my top five iPhone apps for the photographer. I hope I haven’t bored those of you that don’t have an iPhone too much. If you have an iPhone or are thinking of getting one, I hope this was useful.

Show Notes

Check out NDCalc with a screenshot, and jump to the iTunes store from this page:

Check out DoF Calc here:

You can find the VelaClock app for the iPhone here, with a link to the iTunes Store:

The music in this Podcast was created and produced by UniqueTracks.

The music in this episode is from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network at


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Michael Rammell

Posted on behalf of Martin by Michael Rammell, a Wedding Photographer based in Berkshire, England. Michael also has a long-standing passion for Nature & Landscape photography. To catch up with Michael, visit his Web site, and follow him on the following social networking services.

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